Jan 19, 2024

Creative Ways To Repurpose Old Picture Frames

There are so many imaginative ways to repurpose old picture frames and give them new life. Salvaging an old frame is a worthwhile effort, both for your home and the environment. Throwing old picture frames in the trash fills up landfills and creates waste. But environmental concerns aside, creative DIYs can turn an old picture frame into a beautiful and even functional piece of home decor.

The best part about repurposing old picture frames is the wide range of options you can choose from, from the picture frames themselves to the project ideas you can use as inspiration. Picture frames come in minimalist contemporary designs and beautiful old-fashioned ornate styles to suit any home decor style, from modern to traditional. There's a project on this list that will suit your home, and most of these DIYs are easy to do too. Whether it's a frame collecting dust in the basement or a vintage thrift store find, turn an old picture frame into something new with one of these ideas.

If you have several old picture frames of the same size, turn them into a display case. This DIY is easy to do and you can hardly tell that the finished product used to be a stack of old picture frames. You can really use any number of frames for this project, starting with at least three to make a triangle display case, four for a square, five for a pentagonal, and so on. To complete this project, the frames just need to have flat edges that can easily be glued to the edge of the other frames.

It doesn't take much to complete this DIY according to Homedit. You just need your frames and a suitable adhesive, like a hot glue gun or wood glue. Use the glue to attach the edge of the frames together into the intended shape. You can leave the display case as-is, or use heavy card stock or a thin piece of wood, cut to the opening's shape, to create a top or a bottom for the display case. Then, fill it with your favorite decorative accouterments. You can place almost anything inside, from decorative stones, shells, and flowers to a few prized knick-knacks. This display case idea is a fun one to turn into a seasonal display. For example, scatter faux autumn leaves inside for the fall, create a mini holiday scene for the winter, dress it up with flowers for the spring, and decorate it with seashells for the summer.

It doesn't take much imagination to picture how an old photo frame can make a great serving tray. Most frames have slightly raised edges and a flat main surface, perfect for carrying items. To make sure it can hold up to its job, you'll want to choose a sturdy frame. Look for one with a solid glass front instead of flimsy plastic. A stiff backing board that attaches securely is also a must.

Remove the backing board and mat board and put a decorative image, fabric (like lace), or another background of your choice into the frame. Ensure that it fills the entire frame since this will be the decorative flat surface of the tray. Place the backing board back on securely. Flip the frame right side up and attach handles to each short side using screws. Keep in mind that since the tray is supported by the backing board, it's not ideal for carrying large or heavy items. To make it more secure, you can reinforce the backing board by gluing it in place.

Want to make a new Christmas display, but don't want to spend money on festive decor? Create new holiday items out of something you already have lying around. You can take an old picture frame and outfit it with Christmas decorations you already have on hand.

Create a more dimensional effect, like the example in this photo, by taking out the backing board, mat board, and glass, and using just the frame. Use string, ribbon, tape, or glue to attach the decorations of your choice around and inside the frame. Items like bows, faux poinsettias, and small decorations are excellent for lining the frame — just attach them with a hot glue gun. You can use ribbon to hang ornaments within the frame for a festive centerpiece. For a finishing touch, you can also wrap Christmas lights or fairy lights around the frame. Of course, this idea works with any other holiday or seasonal decorations as well to create budget-friendly, rotating displays.

Necklaces are a gorgeous accessory, but if you have a lot of them, you know how nightmarish it can be when they get tangled together in a jewelry box. There's another way to store your necklaces, and it keeps them on display as well. An old frame is easy to convert into a necklace holder that is both practical and decorative.

Take your frame and remove the backing board, mat board, and glass as you'll just want the frame part for this project. Take a piece of string that is long enough to reach from one end of the frame to the other, horizontally. You can keep it a bit loose (like in this example photo) or pull it taut across. Attach the string to the back of the frame using dabs of glue or by screwing a screw into the frame on each side to tie the string around.

Children come home from school with all sorts of colorful and creative art projects — sometimes too many of them. If the front of your fridge is overflowing with doodles, create a kid's art board using an old frame. This DIY is simple to create and even simpler to use. Take an old picture frame and remove the glass, mat board, and backing board. Take a piece of string and stretch it from one side to the other, horizontally, securing it on each end. Then, use some mini wooden clothes pins to attach the artwork to the string.

This project isn't just aesthetically pleasing: it can also help with organization. It gives children the chance to display their art in a specific space, without overwhelming living areas. This board gives kids a chance to display their artwork with pride, and then replace it with the next masterpiece as it comes along. Create one for each little artist in your home and hang them together for a one-of-a-kind gallery wall. This idea works great as a photo board as well, to display your favorite snapshots.

Most people don't exactly consider saving money a fun activity, but you can make the task a little more enjoyable with a visual piggy bank. With this picture frame DIY from Decoist, you'll create a piggy bank that you can keep on display. This project is especially great for when you're saving for a certain goal or activity, like travel savings or a wedding fund. The event can even spark inspiration for the piggy bank's decoration.

You'll need a deeper frame for this project, like a shadow box picture frame — one with enough space in between the glass and the backing board to hold money. Cut a slot somewhere on the top of the frame that's large enough for you to slide bills and coins into. Then, decorate the frame to your liking. For example, for a travel piggy bank, you might add photos of your dream destination, travel-themed stickers, or a travel quote. The finished product isn't just cute, it can be motivational. It helps you see how much money you're saving. And if you keep it on display, it's a daily reminder that might feel more rewarding than seeing some numbers creep up on your banking app.

If your bookcase is looking a little drab and boring, an old picture frame project might be the item to turn it around. You can create a decorative bookcase addition using an old picture frame and a wooden box. If you happen to have a frame and wooden box that fit together, this DIY is super straightforward — just use wood glue to attach the frame to the front of the box.

Otherwise, you can build a small wooden box to fit your frame. This project only requires simple tools like a saw, wood glue, wood clamps, and a nail gun (or a hammer and nails). Measure and cut the wood to fit the frame and create a box behind it. Paint or stain the wood to a color of your choice. Once dried, use wood glue to assemble the box. If it needs further reinforcing, you can strengthen the seams with a nail gun or a hammer and nails. Lastly, use wood glue to attach the frame to the front of the box.

A corkboard is almost always useful, providing a central place for you to pin up your to-do lists, memos, and favorite snapshots. You can make an even more charming corkboard by using an old picture frame and some cork roll. The more decorative the frame, the better, and keep in mind that you can paint or stain the frame to a new color.

To measure your cork roll, take off the frame's backing board and use it to trace the appropriate cork board size. Cut the corkboard and place it inside the frame. Put the backing board back on to hold the cork in place. Now, you can mount the framed corkboard on a wall, or if the frame has a built-in stand, use it as a desktop corkboard. This project is practical but also decorative, and is an attractive upgrade from the plain corkboards that you might find in an office supply shop.

An old picture frame is a charming way to display a succulent garden. Succulents are the ideal plant type for this project. Theydon't require much watering or space to thrive. The easiest way to create this planter frame is to choose a frame that is already suitable to fit over a shallow planter — in this case, you can just remove the frame backing board, mat board, and glass and attach it to the top of the planter using wood glue.

Otherwise, you can also build a wooden planter box to fit the frame or use an old shadow box frame that is at least an inch deep to fit the soil and plants. Since succulents prefer arid environments, consider drilling a few holes in the bottom of the planter box to allow for water drainage. If you'd prefer to keep the box intact, another option is to line the bottom of the box with coarse gravel for drainage. Either way, avoid overwatering to make sure the plants and frame don't become water-damaged.

An old frame, a thin panel of wood, primer paint, and some chalkboard paint is all it takes to create a personalized chalkboard. The more ornate of a frame you choose, the more distinctive your finished chalkboard. Plus, you can paint it any color and create a custom look to match your decor.

To start, remove the backing board, mat board, and glass from the frame. Measure and cut a thin sheet of MDF board that will fit inside the frame. Next comes the chalkboard paint. There are some important steps for the best application process. First, it's important to prime the surface so the chalkboard paint will adhere properly and have a smooth finish. You can use a chalkboard paint spray or brush-on formula. Spray can give you an even finish, but liquid can be less messy. Follow the paint's directions for the best result, keeping in mind that most will need at least two coats and a couple of days to dry. Then, put the board into the frame and hang it up using Command strips.

Building a mini greenhouse doesn't need to be an expensive or difficult project. In fact, a range of waste materials can be used to create a DIY greenhouse, from old glass panes to plastic bottles. Simple old picture frames really make an ideal greenhouse material: not only do they look nice, but they also have a sturdy frame and let light in for plants to grow.

Similar to making a picture frame display case, there are a few ways you can put this project together. Since it involves joining two or more frames together, you'll want to use basic frames with plain edges that can be attached to each other with glue or nails. Remove the backing board and mat board from the frame. If you use wooden frames, it's best to use a wood sealer to make them water-resistant. You'll also likely need to glue the glass into the frame to keep it in place. To create a simple structure, follow the example in this photo, taking two identical picture frames and simply attaching them at the top to create a small tent-like greenhouse.

An old picture frame makes a pretty earring holder, especially if you have unique pieces that you'd like to keep on display. This project also helps keep earrings organized and paired properly. If you want a tabletop holder, you'll want a frame with a base that allows it to stand up straight. You can also make a wall-mounted earring holder for a great space-saver.

Start with your frame of choice and take out the backing board, mat board, and glass. You can spray paint the frame if you'd like to switch up the color. Next, measure out the jewelry holder backer, which can be any material that has large enough holes to hang earrings on. Ideal materials include mesh fabric, chicken wire, sturdy lace fabric, or even window screen. Attach the material taut to the back side of the frame using glue, staples, or nails. The small holes are the perfect spot to place earrings and to keep your jewelry organized.

A letter board looks oh-so-cute as a piece of decor and is a great spot to display a message as well. Whether it's to write out an important or an inspirational quote, a letter board can help remind you of what really matters. While you could buy one from a store, why not create a personalized option from an old picture frame?

Start with a picture frame of your choice (keeping in mind that a larger frame means more room for letters). Remove the frame backing board and the mat board. Cut a piece of bristol board or other thick paper to fit inside the frame. Since this part will be the background for your letter board, choose a color or pattern you enjoy. Place the cut-out paper inside the frame and put the backing board back on. On the front side of the frame, measure wooden dowels to fit across the frame horizontally. These dowels will hold the letters, so use as many as needed to create your ideal number of rows. Use a hot glue gun to attach the dowels to the glass of the frame. Now the frame is a letter board, ready for you to pop on your favorite sayings! You can use pre-made letter board letters, Scrabble pieces, or print out your own letters on cardstock to spell out your quotes.